Youth Service High-Yield Activity Guide, Ages 6-9
One-time service activities for younger Club members to develop leadership in important areas of their lives.
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One-time service activities for younger Club members to develop leadership in important areas of their lives.
Members explore basic nutrition and wellness concepts and learn how they relate to leadership.
Youth learn the meaning of gratitude and identify different things in their lives to be grateful for.
Youth learn what values are and why they are important. They should also be able to name values important to them.
Youth build critical-thinking and problem-solving skills while working together on a challenge.
Members explore kindness and experience what it feels like to give and receive kindness.
Youth consider stressful situations, and they identify strategies for staying calm and peaceful.
Youth consider examples of unfairness and injustice and identify strategies for responding.
Youth explore qualities that make us unique and come to appreciate differences.
Youth explore the importance of trees to the environment and learn why we need them.
Youth become aware of items polluting waterways, and they explore ways to reduce pollution.
Youth learn about the importance of saving energy and identify energy-saving practices they can do.
Youth learn ways to eliminate waste – reduce, reuse, and recycle – and they identify ways to reduce the amount of items they use and to reuse/repurpose some everyday items.
Leadership and Service has been a foundational area for the Boys & Girls Club Movement since the start, helping youth build critical leadership skills so they can contribute to the community in meaningful ways.
Leadership and Service programs increase members’ motivation to become leaders and inspire others; their ability to use leadership skills to create meaningful change; and their confidence in seeing themselves as leaders. All programs build core competencies across age groups in three primary domains: self-leadership, leadership with others, and leadership in the community.
Know oneself; understand thoughts/feelings and be able to manage them; empower oneself to act
Leadership With Others
Be able to engage and communicate with diverse groups of people – with different perspectives and in different settings – in order to create meaning together and inspire others
Leadership in the Community
Build relationships across different systems in order to bring groups together for a shared goal
Your role in developing leadership is to provide a safe and positive environment to encourage youth and support them in skill building. Club professionals create opportunities for youth to develop a sense of belonging, recognize accomplishments and help them build relationships with their peers.
Use a Youth-Centered Focus
Club Professionals should use youth-centered approaches to reframe conflict, acknowledging young people’s feelings and helping them see the connection between their emotions, behaviors and consequences to help identify their own solutions. Club professionals should support leadership development by asking effective questions, listening actively, encouraging, and modeling successful action.
Ask, Listen and Encourage to Support All Youth as Leaders
Club staff can support leadership development and demonstrate a belief in all youth as leaders by using the Ask, Listen and Encourage model:
Practice Positive Youth Development to Create Inclusive Clubs
In order to fulfill our mission, Clubs must create safe, positive and inclusive environments for youth of every race, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status, religion or cultural belief. By creating inclusive environments at our Clubs, we improve the overall experience for all young people. When youth development professionals use the Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development, we help ensure all youth:
As you facilitate these activities, consider strategies that help youth feel affirmed and engaged with Club experiences that meet their needs and abilities.
For more information on building and sustaining an inclusive environment, see the BLUEprint at BGCA.net/ProgramBasics.
Positive Youth Development Supports Character and Social-Emotional Development
Boys & Girls Clubs support Good Character and Citizenship as one of our three priority outcome areas. Character is the way one behaves when no one is looking. In Boys & Girls Clubs, we seek to build six character traits, as defined by CHARACTER COUNTS! They are: respect, fairness, trustworthiness, responsibility, caring and citizenship.2 When YDPs and youth practice skills and exhibit behaviors related to character, they are on their way to enjoying positive experiences, relationships and environments. One of the most important staff roles is to set the expectation for character and show youth what these qualities look like in action. These character traits come to life when staff members model them consistently.
Positive youth development provides direction for how you interact with, engage and model behavior for youth. You get to shape the lives of young people every day. As a result, you set the expectations and show youth what the essential character traits – caring, citizenship, fairness, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness – mean and how they look. These character traits come to life when youth practice social and emotional skills like teamwork, conflict management and emotional regulation. Young people use skills to lead themselves and others, as well as demonstrate positive attributes in citizenship, like community engagement and voting.
You can start to build character using “caught and taught” approaches. Youth “catch” social-emotional development skills when they observe staff modeling appropriate behaviors and skills, and when they interact with peers. Youth can also be “taught” skills to build good character when the skills are explicitly introduced and practiced through program lessons and activities. Use this formula to understand how character develops over time:
Staff Model Good Character + Youth Practice Skills Regularly = Character Development
To build character traits, include many opportunities for youth to practice social-emotional development skills. These include:
For more information, see the reference handout, Practicing Social-Emotional Development Skills to Achieve Character Development, in Program Basics. It will show you the specific social-emotional development skills young people should practice in order to demonstrate positive behaviors as described by the six character essential traits.
BGCA offers developmentally appropriate programs and resources to develop leadership motivation, ability and confidence in members ages 6-9 years, 10-12 years and 13-15 years. All are available for download from BGCA.net.
Middle to Late Childhood
Ages 6-9 and 10-12
Ages 10-12 and 13-15
Ages 13-15 and 16-18
The Youth Service Activity Guide is part of the Million Members, Million Hours of Service (MMMHS) initiative, which is designed to give every member a chance to participate in year-round service activities.
Purpose of the Guide
The purpose of the Youth Service Activity Guide is to bring together small groups of youth to introduce them to important leadership topics – personal, interpersonal and global – and engage them in activities that will help them learn how to make positive and meaningful change in their communities. The activities in this guide are intended as one-time exploratory experiences for 6- to 9- and 10- to 12-year-old members. They can be implemented in any program area of a Club any day of the year.
Like all of BGCA’s Leadership and Service programs, the Youth Service Activity Guide focuses on the development of leadership and service skills: self-leadership; leadership with others; and leadership in the community. In addition, the activities stress important service-learning competencies: investigation and research; planning and preparation; goal-setting and action steps; reflection; and presentation. Finally, members gain civic-engagement competencies: being involved in real-world experiences, developing their voices, and seeing themselves as agents of change in their Club and community.
Like all BGCA Leadership and Service programs, the Youth Service Activity Guide develops competencies – both social-emotional and leadership/service skills – in three separate domains. Here are examples of how the activities specifically build these competencies.
The following BGCA resources provide ongoing support for these activities.
The Youth Service Activity Guide is designed as an introduction to critical leadership issues youth face today – personal, interpersonal and global – providing engaging, hands-on opportunities to explore each topic.
While the activities in this guide do appear in numerical order, you can choose any activity to start with. Each one is designed to be implemented as a stand-alone experience lasting approximately 45 to 60 minutes. For each leadership topic, activities are included for youth ages 6-9 and ages 10-12. Although individual activities suggest target age levels, each activity may be used with other age groups as determined by Club staff. With a mixed-age group, you can decide which activity best fits the needs of youth. In some cases, you may need to provide extra support for younger members or encourage older members to assist as needed.
All activities focus on building skills in one of three domains: self-leadership, leadership with others and leadership in the community. Members develop skills by exploring the following essential topics.
Leadership With Others (Interpersonal)
Leadership in the Community (Global)
Each topic area detailed above includes an activity. Each activity includes the following.
The instructional materials for each activity offer detailed guidelines for implementing with youth:
Preparing to Implement the Activities
Although the activities are designed to be easy-to-implement, stand-alone experiences that can be integrated into any program area of the Club any day of the year, you will have more success if you take time to prepare for implementing them. Here is an overview of what you will need:
Fostering Group Unity
In order for a group to work together effectively, members need to believe that the environment is emotionally supportive and safe. By creating group agreements (or ground rules), members have a shared vision for their time together – even if it’s for just one activity – and feel emotionally supported by other members. Before implementing any activity, it is important to take time to help youth to create guidelines. Ask group members these questions to guide them in making a group agreement:
One way to do this is to ask each question individually. For each question, have each youth write five responses on separate Post-it notes, and stick them on a flipchart page. You can review the responses to each question as a group and decide on the top five responses shared by group members. Once you have identified the top five group responses to each question, post them on a single flipchart page and post it in a place where members can see it every time they participate in one of the activities. At the start of each activity, you can briefly review the group agreements for returning members and members new to the group.
The activities themselves introduce youth to important leadership and service topics, but any one of the activities can be extended into an ongoing service-learning project. At the end of each activity, suggestions and links are provided to get you started on developing a relevant and engaging project.
By using BGCA’s innovative program guide Teens Take the Lead as a resource, you can help youth design and implement projects of interest based on the topics explored in these activities. Teens Take the Lead shows youth a step-by-step process to help them discover their passion, identify a problem or need, and create a project to address the issue they have identified. The guide is available on BGCA.net.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America gratefully acknowledges the support of the FCA Foundation. Through the generous assistance of this organization, BGCA has been able to expand the Million Members, Million Hours of Service initiative for all Club/Youth Center youth.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following organizations to the development of Youth Service Activity Guide. The insights and expertise of the following Club professionals were invaluable in shaping the program’s design and content.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan
Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo
North Toledo Boys & Girls Club
Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland and Macomb Counties
Field Zone – Southfield Unit
The Youth Service Activity Guide was developed by a team of BGCA professionals, and we especially appreciate the contributions and support of the following:
BGCA also thanks Melanie Baffes of Hidden Wholeness for her dedication and excellence in the writing and design of this guide, and Rachael Mason for editing.